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Germany is ripping off the world: Ex-BoE member Adam Posen

Matt Clinch; Reporting by Carolin Roth
Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 | 3:25 AM ET
Germany 'rips off' the world: Posen
Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 | 3:30 AM ET
Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discusses Germany's record-high export surplus and tells CNBC why it is not a positive.

Germany's economic policy is wrong in many different ways, according to Adam Posen, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC) and the President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

At the center of international criticism over its trade surplus and its benefits from a weak single currency, Posen told CNBC Tuesday that Germany economic policy is causing problems around the globe.

"First it doesn't pay its workers anything in commensurate with the productivity that they have, thereby cheating its own workforce. Second it invests nothing ever in the public sector or in the private sector. Third, those two combined means it's competing as a low wage economy," he said.

(Read more: German business: Europe should copy, not criticize surplus)

"Fourth, it rips off Europe and the rest of the world in that it gets a subsidy to its exports from a weaker euro than the deutschmark would be because of the weakness of other countries. And fifth, it tries to grab market share when there's lots of unemployment in the world thereby exporting deflation."

Posen added that they also haven't restructured all the bad debts that they lent, in contrast to the French, the Finnish and the Austrians to southern Europe.

"If they had resolved and done more transfers to southern Europe in the form of writing off more of the bad loans they gave to southern Europe. If they had pushed for a monetary policy that was more expansionary instead of blocking expansionary monetary policy, and if they had invested at home and in their own public and in their own people, these global balances and the imbalances in Europe would be reduced," he said.

The European Commission is reportedly considering an investigation into whether the country's current account surplus is negatively affecting the rest of the region. Last week, it emerged that its foreign trade balance - the amount by which exports outstrip imports - hit a record high in September.

(Read More: Will BoE inflation report signal early rate hike?)

It has also has faced criticism from elsewhere in Europe and even the U.S. Treasury over its dependence on exports. It has also received calls that it should be encouraging its people to spend more on foreign imports and help stimulate growth in the rest of Europe, which has been hit by a sovereign debt crisis after the global economic crash of 2008.

French Economy Minister Benoit Hamon called for German wages to be raised in order to ensure fairer competition in September. Speaking to the BBC he accused Germany of seeking an unfair advantage over the rest of Europe by keeping pay artificially low, calling on the next coalition government to "play fair".

A minimum wage is expected to emerge as a cornerstone policy of the next German government with the minority coalition parterre - Germany's Social Democrats - believed to be demanding the implementation of the scheme.

(Read more: Bank of England: 2014 rate rise very unlikely)

Meanwhile, Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy believes the heated debate on Germany that has come to a head this week is somewhat "misplaced".

"Germany's external surplus had very little to do with decades of fiscal mismanagement in Greece or long-standing structural weaknesses in Italy and France," he told CNBC.

However he conceded that whereas struggling southern European nations have made huge progress in this area, with large current account deficits swinging into outright surpluses, Germany has done very little to rebalance its economy by significantly boosting domestic demand.

By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81

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